Tips to lighten the load

Anything to do with mechanical, construction etc

Tips to lighten the load

Postby ianstear » Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:01 pm

My wife and I are set on a small teardrop and are either going to buy or build. We have 3 requirements so far. First, it must be lightweight at less than say 850 lbs. Second it must have 2 doors, one on either side. 3rd it must have a rear kitchen galley. What construction tips techniques or materials have been shown/effectively used to reducethe overall empty weight of a teardroprotest. Is an aluminum trailer worth the weight savings of about 88lbs for a 5 x 8? Can anyone recommend a specific trailer that would meet oor requirements? Any ideas or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Ian
Teardrop Inspector
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2016 3:31 pm

Re: Tips to lighten the load

Postby Bill n Robi » Fri Dec 02, 2016 10:27 am

We were in the same situation as you, my wife is disabled from neck surgeries and has no upper arm strength so wanted something that was a bit easier to move. We looked at a lot and found the Little Guy T@G worked for us. It is 870 pounds before you add battery/propane/water. Ours loaded with underbed storage and kitchen stuff, Norcold full of food, dual batteries, larger toolbox is 1050 pounds. We do not load anything in the cabin as we like to be able to stop and sleep without unloading everything into the TV. This is a picture of the wall, thin clad over 1 1/2 inch foam - extremely well insulated for cold or warm camping. LG has a video walk thru on their web site.

TAG Wall.jpg
TAG Wall.jpg (38.6 KiB) Viewed 803 times
2015 T@G Max
2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4 Door Short Bed
User avatar
Bill n Robi
The 300 Club
Posts: 304
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2014 4:32 pm
Location: San Diego, Ca

Re: Tips to lighten the load

Postby yrock87 » Fri Dec 02, 2016 12:45 pm

Foam sandwich construction as listed above will definitely safe you weight. my 5x10 home built tear is about 900 lbs camping. I do need to weigh it to confirm, but the shell was 300 lbs before I put it on the trailer frame. foam sandwich is strong and light, see my avatar photo for an example of what 1 inch of foam and 2 sheets of 3mm ply can do. I am 180lbs and I am standing on a 14 inch cut out for the roof vent.

In addition to sandwich foam, you need to really ask yourself how stout/strong certain areas really need to be. I was kind of obsessive about saving weight. why use a 1x2 when a 1x1 would work? why use 1/4inch when 1/8 is sufficient?

another area that you can save weight is the trailer frame. you don't need a lot of heavy steel to have a strong, safe platform for your tear. you are not building a house where you need a true foundation. they box of the trailer shell should add strength to the frame, not rely on the frame for strength. my frame is a simple double square with diagonal braces for the tongue. only 3 cross members in total, that includes the front and back. There are nearly 5 ft unsupported areas where the cabin/shell floor has no steel under it. It saves saves weight when you cut out the unnecessary steel and downsize what you have to thin gauge tube vs thick angle. additionally, go with a smaller axle and tires. I'm not saying the little 8 inch wheels, but you do not NEED 15inch plus wheels and a big heavy 3500lb axle. all of that adds weight quickly. my tires and axle alone weigh in at 150 lbs, by far the biggest area where I could have cut weight. smaller 12 inch wheels and a torsion axle would have weighed half that and worked just as well for a tear.

ounces add to pounds. don't miss an opportunity to cut a pound or two, because if you say "its only 10 lbs, that wont make a difference" and you do that 10 times you just added 100 lbs to the finished product.
The SJ Cruiser, my 5x10 Benroy build
User avatar
Teardrop Master
Posts: 286
Images: 97
Joined: Sat Oct 31, 2015 2:32 pm

Re: Tips to lighten the load

Postby Tomterrific » Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:43 am

I made my tear very light. It could have been even lighter. Our camper was made as simple, cheap and as fast as I could get it together before I lost interest.

Trailer. I used a cheap lightweight Northern Tool trailer I had on hand.
Floor. I used 3/4" plywood but could have used 1/2".
Sides. I used cheap 5mm underlayment for the sides. I stiffened the sides with vertical 1x battens. This is a good way to get very light walls fast and easy.
Roof. I used convention with cross ribs, insulation between ribs, interior ceiling and top of the same underlayment as the sides.
Strength. I see many, if not most, tears being made with extra heavy materials with the thinking it makes them stronger. An engineer/designer looks at the weak areas and makes that failure point stronger. I think it is the edges that will fail first so I used a cleat, a 1x2, along each edge for a sturdy glue joint. I cut little blocks and glued these along the curve.
Color. If you go with single skin rather than sandwiched insulation paint your camper a light color. Bright white will be best as when I painted mine white it reflected so much of the suns intense heat I think it may be worth more than insulation for comfort.

The 300 Club
Posts: 317
Images: 8
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:18 pm

Re: Tips to lighten the load

Postby gudmund » Sun Dec 04, 2016 2:48 pm

A few weight saving tips to plan ahead for ------ don't plan on carrying a spare tire - either the vehicle spare may fit or maybe can be made to fit with a wheel adapter. No carrying of a 5 to 7 gallon water jug in the trailer - buy bottled water when traveling and carry it in the tow vehicle. If planning on using a tongue box - keep it small !!! and only carry in it what is only necessary!! (The bigger the box - the more "excess" NOT needed STUFF it will end up with inside!!!!! thus more weight being carried!!)
500 Club
Posts: 524
Images: 1
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:58 pm
Location: Camano Island, WN

Re: Tips to lighten the load

Postby alaska teardrop » Sun Dec 04, 2016 3:23 pm

Ian, Sharon has compiled a list of member trailer builds with size & weights that you might study for ideas.

Northern Lite Traveler design: viewtopic.php?f=27&t=51991
User avatar
alaska teardrop
Platinum Donating Member
Posts: 1074
Images: 172
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 1:41 pm
Location: Greenville, Michigan

Return to Teardrop Construction Tips & Techniques

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Scottorious and 3 guests